Ferrets require very specific diets. If this diet isn’t followed, your ferret may develop insulinoma which is a tumor on the pancreas.
Within this article we go into scientific detail on what exactly you should be feeding your ferret, and what you should stay well clear of.
Can You Keep a Vegan Ferret? Here’s the Answer:
It is not possible to keep a vegan ferret. Ferrets are strict carnivores and in the wild will mainly eat raw meat, organs and tissue. They need a diet that’s made of roughly 40% animal-based protein. Following a vegan or vegetarian diet will cause severe health consequences, eventually killing it.
What is a Typical Ferret Diet?
Doing research about your pet ferret’s diet is fundamental to keep it in good condition.
Ferrets need to have a nutritious diet that covers all their needs to keep them in good shape and protect them from different illnesses. This means that you should pay attention to what and when you feed your pet ferret.
Ferrets have a high metabolic rate, and this means that you need to feed your pet ferret between 8 and 10 times per day. This will provide the ferret with the needed energy to stay healthy.
In the wild, ferrets hunt animals that consist of raw meat, bones, tissue and digested vegetable matter. Therefore their natural diet is rich in protein and low in carbohydrates and fibre. Fortunately, domesticated ferrets can eat high-quality store-bought food, or you can prepare and cook the food at home
The most important thing is to make sure that their diet contains enough proteins because they’re strictly carnivores and need to feed on proteins to stay in the perfect shape.
Cooked chicken, raw chicken, cooked meat, and even chicken baby food will be good for your ferret. However, you need to make sure that the food you cook at home is free of salt, seasoning, and extra fats because these are bad for ferrets.
Although ferrets can eat sweets, dairy products, vegetables, and fruits, these types of food can harm them. They lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, which can lead to mood swings and affect the ferret’s internal organs.
Human-grade meaty bones can also be offered to ferrets. These bones aren’t too small, so they can’t be swallowed. They’re large enough to be chewed upon, and the ferret won’t be able to swallow them. At the same time, they will provide the ferret with the needed nutrition.
However, cooked bones should never be offered. The splinters can cut the gums and cause internal damage when swallowed.
Protein pellets and supplements are necessary to keep your ferret healthy. If you can’t find special ferret food, you can use cat or kitten food and provide your pet with some fatty acid supplements. These will improve blood circulation, protect the nerves, and keep the hair and skin in perfect condition.
Dry food is essential for your pet because it keeps the teeth clean and healthy. It’s important to mix all types of food together to ensure that your pet ferret is getting the nutrition it needs.
Ferrets should also be offered fresh water all the time to keep their bodies well-hydrated.
Is It Possible For a Ferret To Be Vegan?
For a human, going on a vegan diet can provide some health benefits. It can help with weight loss and lower cholesterol levels to keep your heart healthy. However, the same can’t be applied to your pet ferret.
Carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts make up your vegan diet, but these types of food aren’t suitable for ferrets. The ferret’s body isn’t made to digest large amounts of fibers and carbohydrates, which naturally make up your entire meal if you follow a vegan diet.
This is why ferrets can’t be vegan. As a matter of fact, going on a vegan diet will harm and even kill your pet ferret.
Is It Cruel to Keep a Vegan Ferret?
It’s extremely cruel to keep a vegan ferret because following a vegan diet can actually kill this animal. Without animal-sourced proteins, your ferret won’t be covering its dietary needs, and eventually, its organs will fail.
Ferrets are strict carnivores, and following a vegan diet that contains high amounts of carbohydrates and fibers will eventually kill the ferret.
If you’re vegan, you need to understand that your pet ferret can’t follow in your footsteps. Caring for your pet ferret involves understanding that its dietary needs are different from yours. So although you won’t get sick if you follow a healthy vegan diet, sadly, the same can’t be said about your ferret.
Even if you choose to buy kibble to feed your pet ferret, you need to make sure that it’s made of at least 40% crude proteins, and these proteins should come from an animal source. The kibble should also include between 15% and 20% fats.
You can tell the ingredients in kibble by reading the ingredients label. The first three ingredients list the highest concentration in the food, so if proteins and fats aren’t listed as the first and second ingredients, then this dry food won’t work for your pet.
What are the Risks to Feeding a Ferret a Vegan-Only Diet?
Animal-based proteins should make up most of your ferret’s food, as adult animals need between 30% and 40% of animal-based proteins in their daily meals to stay healthy.
Without enough animal-based proteins, your ferret won’t receive the needed nutrients when you’re offering a vegan-only diet. As a result, it won’t be able to turn this food into sugar, and it will suffer from low blood sugar levels. The symptoms and complications can be too severe.
- Ferrets can start to act sluggish as blood sugar levels decrease due to not receiving enough proteins and this leads to weakness and fatigue. You can tell that your ferret is suffering from low blood sugar if it sits in the same place for too long.
- Lack of food can lead to nausea, drooling, and hyperventilation.
- Without the needed proteins, a ferret can suffer from lack of coordination. It starts to walk in a funny way and can hit obstacles.
- The ferret might suffer from partial paralysis, seizures, and unconsciousness as the condition worsens. If nothing is done to provide the ferret with the needed nutrients, it will eventually die.
What is Insulinoma in Ferrets?
Insulinoma is a condition that usually affects older ferrets but can also affect a younger ferret if it’s not eating right. This is a condition that affects the pancreas when a tumor grows and affects the body’s ability to process sugar.
This tumor leads to the excessive production of the insulin hormone, and the blood sugar levels decrease in the body. This means that the ferret will suffer from low energy levels, although it might show a slight improvement after eating a new meal.
When you’re not offering a healthy and balanced diet to your pet ferret, the risk of getting affected with insulinoma increases. Eating too much sugar or taking some medications can cause this problem.
A malignant or benign tumor can cause insulinoma, and both can cause similar symptoms. Here are the symptoms that a vet will be testing for to diagnose this disease.
- Weight loss.
- Rapid heart rates.
- Lack of coordination.
This condition is either managed by medications, or the vet will recommend a surgery.
Is There Any Vegan Ferret Food?
There’s no vegan ferret food, and the vets don’t recommend offering vegan or vegetarian food if you’re keeping a ferret because this diet doesn’t cover the animal’s nutritional needs.
Although kitten food is good for ferrets, it should be mostly made of animal-based proteins and fats. Dog food that contains wheat and other fibers can actually be fatal to ferrets.
Ferrets’ digestive systems aren’t built to process too many carbohydrates and fibers, so even if you feed your pet ferret regularly, it won’t be receiving the needed nutrients. Eventually, following a vegan or vegetarian diet will kill your pet ferret.
What are the Alternatives for Vegans Keeping Ferrets?
Keeping a ferret can be a real dilemma for a dedicated vegan or vegetarian. Although you can follow a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet, you can’t offer the same kind of food to your pet ferret because this diet can actually kill it.
However, you can follow some freegan tactics to make sure that your pet is getting the needed nutrition, and at the same time, you won’t be buying animal-based food.
Freegan tactics involve getting edible food that is no longer needed and discarded by others. So, you might need to ask your neighbors or friends for cooked food that they would discard anyway.
You can also head to local restaurants, grocery shops, and food retailers to get food that would be discarded or thrown away. Although it might not be suitable for human consumption, as long as it’s clean and doesn’t contain spices or too much salt, it can be a good meal for your ferret.
Some people can also go through dumpsters to get discarded food. However, in this case, you need to make sure that the food you’re getting is clean and healthy, or your pet ferret can get extremely sick.
A vegan or vegetarian diet might be good for human health but will eventually kill your pet ferret. Ferrets are strict carnivores, and their diet should be made mostly of animal-based proteins and fats to keep their bodies in perfect health.
Whether you’re offering your ferret home-prepared food or protein pellets, kibble, or kitten food, you need to ensure that animal-based proteins are the main ingredients. Ferrets need to be fed between eight and ten times a day to stay in excellent health, and you should make sure that you’re providing your pet ferret with animal-based proteins to support its immune system and overall health.